Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (2)
Willis F. Gross
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A good sized audience listened to an able presentation of the teachings of Christian Science by Willis F. Gross in the town hall last Sunday afternoon at 2.30 o'clock. In addition to many from Ayer, which included representatives of all creeds and classes, there were many from out of town. The speaker was given the very closest attention throughout his extended address. The lecturer was introduced by Torrance Parker, a prominent lawyer, of Boston, as follows:
We who believe in Christian Science are witnesses before the Court of Public Opinion to the truth of Christian Science and of the results accomplished by it.
Every Wednesday evening Christian Scientists all over the world, arise in their churches, and testify to healings. I myself have had many demonstrations of the truth as we call them. I wore glasses for seventeen years. I do not now. I was deaf in my left ear for a year and a half; my hearing is now very keen. I was a confirmed and almost continuous smoker. Nine years ago I was healed of the desire in one treatment, and I have never wanted to smoke since and I took on twenty pounds within a year thereafter.
I heard a friend of mine, a man over fifty years old, who had been deaf since he had the scarlet fever when a child, testify at one of our Wednesday evening meetings to the restoration of his hearing, and I can assure you that it was an impressive testimony. I know of the town drunkard, in a small Western city, who was taken out of jail and made into a prosperous, respectable and self-respecting citizen in that same city. I could state similar and even more wonderful things indefinitely.
We are the witnesses, but Christian Science is a very comprehensive subject and is not always fairly or accurately stated. Under the wise direction of Mrs. Eddy a board of special pleaders, men learned in its law and skilled in its practise, experts qualified to present the subject in its full purity, was established.
One of that board will now speak to you. You will not hear all of Christian Science in this lecture, any more than you could hear all of any science during this short time, but what you do hear will be correct, authorized and valuable. Permit me to introduce a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston: Mr. Willis F. Gross. He spoke as follows:
It is evident to every well informed person that Christian Science is a subject of more than passing interest. For nearly a half century it has received most respectful consideration, especially on the part of those who felt the need of a more practical religion and a more effectual method of healing. Many of these persons have found in Christian Science that which healed them morally and physically. As the result of this healing they have became better citizens, neighbors, and friends. Their influence for good has increased many fold, not only in religious activities but in the social life and the business world as well. They enjoy greater freedom for they are not bound by the limitations of mortal belief as formerly. They have a truer sense of what it means to live and render effectual service in the field of honest endeavor. All this is the result of having gained a more practical idea of the Christian religion and a clearer realization of what it is man's privilege to know and enjoy today. Prevalent theories have relegated too much of good to the past or postponed the conscious possession thereof to the far distant future.
Few persons will deny that Christianity has been the greatest power for good in the history of human experience. Throughout Christendom at least Jesus of Nazareth is accepted as the world's greatest religious teacher. Those who preceded him prophesied the fuller revelation of Truth, while those who came after could only reiterate the fundamentals of his doctrine and acknowledge their indebtedness to the great demonstrator of God's power to deliver suffering humanity from the bondage of evil.
Jesus' teachings were understood only in part and the purpose of his mission was comprehended by few. He affirmed and reaffirmed that he taught only the things he had learned of the Father. Concerning the purpose of his life work he said: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." That he was a faithful witness even his enemies were compelled to acknowledge. When he spoke the word "the people were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one having authority. and not as the scribes." He lived as he taught others to live, and he demonstrated the truth and practical worth of his teachings by healing the sick, reforming the sinner and doing many other mighty works.
The multitude apparently had eyes and saw not; ears had they and heard not. His teachings were understood only by those who had risen above materialistic beliefs sufficiently to discern their spiritual meaning. His works were misinterpreted because the people failed to understand how they were accomplished and to what end.
Evidences of Christianity
If there are those who ask why the signs do not follow today as of old, they are told there is no longer any need of miracles as an evidence of the truth of Christianity. It is asserted that the good effects of religious teaching on the lives and morals of men are sufficient evidence that the Christian religion is true. This is well enough so far as it goes, but the mistake is made in concluding that the physical healing accomplished by members of the early church was miraculous and was permitted at that time only for the purpose of establishing the truth of Christianity. Is forgiveness of sin miraculous? It is not so regarded. Why should the healing of sickness be considered miraculous any more than the destruction of sin? Is it not considered that the overcoming of sin is an effect of Christianity and follows as a natural consequence? Is it not taught that the more of the Christ spirit one possesses the less he is in bondage to the evil of sin?
The healing of sickness is one of the beneficial effects of Christianity and it is no more contrary to the natural operation of God's law than is the healing of sin. Christianity should make a man healthy as well as holy, and it would do so if material theories did not limit the power of Truth. Human wisdom acknowledges God's power to forgive sin but contends that the sick man must resort to material remedies and regain his health through obedience to material laws. This false belief prevents the exercise of that faith which the apostle James declared was able to save the sick.
Mortals have made a fatal mistake in consenting to the limitations of faith instead of laboring to remove them. If one's understanding of Truth is unequal to the healing of sickness, would it not be well to search out the cause and "earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints?" A person gains nothing by declaring there are abundant evidences of the truth of Christianity and that first proofs are no longer necessary, whereas he would gain much by striving for the faith of early Christians which was able to heal the sick as well as convert the sinner.
Search for Truth
Doubtless the principal reason why mortals have lost sight of some of the practical results of Christianity is because Pilate's question, What is truth? seems to remain unanswered. It cannot be denied that mortals are materialists in theory and in practise. While it is admitted that there is spiritual truth, yet it is held that material truth, so-called, is just as real as spiritual truth, and has vastly more to do with the affairs of every-day life.
In the search for truth, thought and effort have been in the main along material lines and what has been called progress is in no small degree merely a change of belief. Mortal man has been compelled to admit that much of what he at one time believed to be true is not true. Wherein he has made matter his starting point his progress has been negative in character. He has simply learned from experience what is not true. However, there is encouragement even in this, for the man who has discovered his mistake and rejoices that his eyes have been opened, is far in advance of the one who is in error but believes he has found the truth.
It is a generally accepted theory that man is possessed of a dual nature — i. e., he is both material and spiritual. This theory seems to accord with the belief that truth is both material and spiritual, and this belief is responsible for the conflict between what has been termed material, or natural, science and religion.
The Bible is accepted as authority on spiritual things. Among believers in the Christian religion it is considered that no higher authority exists, for "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Notwithstanding the recognized authority of the inspired word, the so-called higher criticism of this age is inclined to question the authenticity of the sacred writings wherein they fail to agree with scientific deductions from a material basis. Those unusual experiences which are now regarded as miracles, or contradictions of natural law and order, are being questioned today as never before.
If the biblical record of the marvelous works accomplished by the prophets, apostles, and the Master is true, then any teaching, theory, or belief which causes men to doubt, or to question, is an evil because it prevents the exercise of that practical faith in God which is so necessary to a right apprehension of life and the proper solution of its many perplexing problems. On the other hand the teaching which restores the waning faith and gives proof of God's power and willingness to help humanity in every time of need is the pearl of great price, the value of which cannot be estimated according to material standards. Such a teaching is Christian Science. It brings more of hope, and faith, and courage into human experience because it demonstrates the oneness and allness of God, infinite Spirit. It acknowledges but one power, one cause and creator. The emphatic declaration of John that "all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made," is a fundamental teaching of this Science. The Master declared that all good is gained, even in this world, by seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The student of Christian Science has learned to demonstrate the truth of this far reaching statement.
Religion and Medicine
Ever since the dawn of civilization religion and medicine have been regarded as the two most effectual remedies for the ills of human experience. Every people has had its religion and every nation has its system or systems of medicine. Every person has had faith in some method of healing and almost every person has had some faith in religion. Medicine and religion, as they are understood and practised today, are in no sense identical. It is universally believed that they are not even necessary to each other. The study and practise of medicine can be pursued independently of any religious convictions and it is held that medical theories can neither help nor interfere with one's religious experience or the benefits resulting therefrom. Both are supposed to minister to human needs, but each in its own way.
Mortals do not look to medicine for moral or spiritual help, neither do they depend upon religion to heal their physical infirmities. The line appears to be very sharply drawn and it is clearly set forth as to what one may, or may not, expect from either. It is true that religion is sometimes appealed to when material remedies have failed, but this is not because it is believed there is any connection between religion and medicine. Rather does it show that in the hour of its extremity, when all material means have failed, and the boasted wisdom of this world says there is no hope, the human heart has some faith, feeble though it may be, that God is able to heal the ills of the flesh.
No Incurable Evil
While it is believed that on some occasions medicine is able to provide the needed help, and at other times religion alone can minister to human needs, yet there are so many problems of daily life which seem to be beyond the reach of either medicine or religion. In these trying experiences mortals are left to continue the struggle as best they can. If they succeed, it must be in their own strength, and, if they fail, they must suffer the consequences of work poorly done, or left undone. The seeming helplessness of mortals and the never ending struggles against fearful odds show the great need of a universal remedy — a remedy which will effectually heal the ills of human experience. Christianity is such a remedy and the Science of Christianity proclaims the joyful news that there is no such thing as an incurable evil, either moral or physical. Obedience to the law of God is the one universal remedy for all discord.
The law of God is eternal and its harmonious action cannot be interfered with. In the study of the Scriptures, one is impressed by the fact that in the days of old, faith in God's presence and power was able to remove mountains and provide whatever was necessary to establish harmony. Many of the demonstrations of divine power were so extraordinary that they are considered supernatural and the people are told it is unreasonable to expect a repetition of such unusual experiences.
That which is unnatural is contrary to the law of nature. When it is understood that the law of divine Mind is the only real law of nature and that divine Mind never sets aside its own eternal law, then it becomes evident that whatever God has accomplished for any people in any age was divinely natural, and it is not unreasonable to expect such a recurrence of those wonderful works as occasion may require.
Law and Prophecy Fulfilled
Among the illustrious characters of sacred history are Abraham, Moses and Elijah, but the greatest of all is Jesus. Abraham appeared in the history of human experience when there was great need of a more practical faith in good. In obedience to the divine command he went out into "a strange country," "not knowing whither he went." He learned to "walk by faith, not by sight." So strong was his faith in the time of sore trial and great temptation, that he has been called the father of the faithful.
Moses was the law-giver. It was through his understanding of Truth that the children of Israel were delivered from the bondage of Egypt. In the fullness of time he received ten commandments engraven on tables of stone. He was perhaps the earliest writer on jurisprudence. He gave the people an elaborate code of laws to govern them in all the affairs of life. He was their wise counsellor and guide during the 40 years sojourn in the wilderness, and it was their faithfulness to what he taught that made it possible for them to go up and possess the promised land.
Elijah represented the spirit of prophecy which looks "not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen," and judges "not according to the appearance," but judges "righteous judgment." In the life, the teachings and the works of Jesus faith becomes spiritual understanding and law and prophecy are fulfilled. In him was revealed the way out of Egyptian bondage; through the wilderness of human beliefs, doubts and fears, into the consciousness of spiritual being where harmony reigns supreme.
Demonstrations of Truth
These persons possessed an understanding of God which was unknown to the people, hence they were able to accomplish many good works which the multitudes believed to be impossible. This was especially true of the Master, who demonstrated the power of God to restore harmony whatever the need might be from a human point of view. Many of his works were contrary to personal experience, and even to this day they are regarded as contradictions of natural law and order.
He walked on on the water, stilled the tempest, fed the hungry multitudes, healed the sick, cast out devils and raised the dead. His power to heal was not limited. It was not exercised only on special occasions or in the healing of certain types of diseases. It is recorded that he healed "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." When we consider the inclination of mortals to rely upon earthly things so long as there is any hope of salvation in this direction, we are warranted in concluding that the great majority of those who appealed to Jesus for help belonged to the so-called incurable class.
Among the diseases which are mentioned specifically by the sacred writers as having been healed by the Master are fever, dropsy, palsy, leprosy and insanity. Many other physical infirmities were healed. The lame, the maimed, the halt, the deaf, the dumb and the blind were made every whit whole.
To the man with the withered hand the Master said, "Stretch forth thine hand." and "it was restored whole, like as the other." There was a man who had been afflicted thirty and eight years. He lay in a helpless condition beside the pool pf Bethesda "waiting for the moving of the water." When Jesus saw him he commanded him to rise and walk, and immediately he was healed. There was a woman who had an issue of blood 12 years. She had tried every known remedy. The record states she "had spent all her living on physicians, neither could be healed of any." She was healed when she touched the hem of his garment. There was another "woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself." Jesus spoke of her as one whom Satan had bound, which shows that he did not believe her affliction was a dispensation of Providence. "He called her to him, and said unto her: Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity . . . and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."
In at least three instances the dead were raised to life. The daughter of Jairus had just died when the sorrowing father appealed to the Master for help. In the case of the widow's son the funeral party was on the way to the burial, and Lazarus had been dead four days. But no mortal belief, nor material condition, not even the conviction that death is inevitable and in accordance with the divine plan, could prevent the demonstration of God's power to destroy even the last enemy.
The Master's demonstrations of Truth were so varied and complete that it seems strange humanity has not seen in these healing works the proof that spiritual understanding is the universal remedy for all the ills of human experience. The failure to realize this can be accounted for only as one considers that these works are regarded as miracles: i.e., it is believed they were in some way accomplished contrary to the natural operation of the laws to which men and women today are subject. This erroneous conclusion has prevented the demonstration of a power which is able to deliver from every form of evil.
Impossibilities do not occur. What has been done in the past can be accomplished today. If a particular result has followed the combination or succession of causes, that result will always follow when the same and no other influences are at work.
Because mortals have believed that the healing works of the Master were unnatural experiences, they have not tried to understand how those works were accomplished; notwithstanding the fact that the great demonstrator of God's power to heal all human ills declared that the believer in all ages would be able to do the works that he did.
Miracles Divinely Natural
Believers in the Christian religion have accepted the miracles of the Bible as demonstrations of divine power. Christian Science presented a new view of those miracles when it declared that the wonderful works accomplished by holy men of God were not contraventions of law. They were not brought about through suspension of the laws of nature, nor by arousing dormant forces and powers which have since returned to their former state. Those healing works were marvelous because human experience was unfamiliar with them. Nevertheless they were the divinely natural result of the operation of law which is ever present and ever active. Because a law is not recognized is no evidence of its non-existence, and because the operation of law is not comprehended is not proof that the law is inoperative.
All progress is the result of obedience to law. The wonderful inventions of the last century were as possible 6000 years ago as they are now. There is no law in operation, or in existence [today that has not been in operation] since time began. And there never has been a law which is not in operation at this moment. If this be true, and if the works of the Master and his followers were the result of obedience to law, then all those works are possible today, and even greater demonstrations can be expected, for no intelligent person believes that the possibilities of infinite law have been realized.
Advantages of Christian Healing
Many helpless invalids have wished it were possible to heal the sick today in the same manner as the sick were healed by the primitive Christians, and most persons are persuaded that if such good works could be accomplished the hope of overcoming the ills of the flesh would rest upon a more sure foundation. Christian Science declares that it is possible to heal all manner of disease through spiritual means, as was demonstrated by the members of the early church, since those healing works were accomplished through obedience to divine law and that law is in full force today manifesting the will of God.
This Christianly scientific method of healing has many advantages. It is the one universal remedy for all discordant conditions; it is the most effective healing method the world has ever known, and it avoids the possibility of disastrous results of operations and material methods of healing. It is always available. There is never a time or a place that the remedy is not at hand, for God's law and love are ever-present and omnipotent. Is it not believed [that God is ever-present to help in the overcoming of sin? Why then should it seem unreasonable to declare] that God is ever-present to help in the overcoming of other discordant conditions?
When Paul was permitted to plead his own cause in the presence of King Agrippa and the principal men of the city, he asked this searching question: "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" And so Christian Science is asking of thinking men and women of today, believers in God, believers in the verity of the sacred writings, believers in the power and efficacy of prayer, why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should heal the sick?
Is there anything unreasonable in such a teaching? Is it in any sense contrary to the letter or the spirit of the Scriptures? Even though one may not believe in Christian Science, as he understands it, must he not admit that the claims of Christian Science are legitimate and in accord with what could be reasonably expected if one were to accept and put into practise the teachings of Jesus? Is there any reason why one should not accept at its full value the emphatic declaration "He that believeth shall be saved?" Surely not. Why, then, should he not accept, with the same measure of faith that other remarkable declaration made by the same person on the same occasion, "And these signs shall follow them that believe?" Why should he not accept that other equally important utterance of the great Teacher, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also?"
Kingdom of Heaven at Hand
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. He came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and the burden of his cry was, "Repent ye: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." When Jesus lifted up his voice to proclaim the gospel of salvation to a waiting world, he taught the people that something was required on their part. "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," was the keynote of his message. When he sent out his disciples to preach the gospel and heal the sick, he told them to declare unto all who had ears to hear, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
To repent means more than to be sorry for wrongdoing. The literal meaning of the word translated repent is "to have another mind." Paul said, "To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Is it not evident that if one would escape from sin and disease, which result in death, he must "have another mind?" So long as mortals are in bondage to the material sense of things, heaven, harmony, will seem to be afar off. Only as they become spiritually minded can they see things as they really are and understand that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Even though there may be differences of opinion as to where heaven is located and when and how it is to be gained, all are agreed that in heaven there is no sin, sickness, nor death. The revelator saw a new heaven and a new earth and he heard a great voice out of heaven saying, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.'' In view of the fact that John saw this new heaven and new earth nearly 2000 years ago, must it not be that this harmonious state of existence is the reality of being now?
What Is Required
The declaration that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" implies that it is possible of attainment. Jesus said to his disciples, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Here was the emphatic declaration that a sense of righteousness, or right thinking and living, higher than was entertained even by those who were regarded as the spiritual leaders of the people, was necessary to gain eternal harmony.
While it may seem that the chief purpose of the Master's works was to help those in need of help and to convince the world that his teachings were true, yet the great benefit of these works to universal humanity, is to be found in that they were practical applications of the Truth which he declared would never pass away but would remain for all men to understand and demonstrate.
Heaven will never be more real than it is at this moment and it is at hand. Nothing but the mortal belief in the reality and power of evil can prevent a man from entering this kingdom now. God's will is supreme and absolute in heaven. It is manifest in the harmonious operation of law. To understand and obey divine law is to enter the kingdom. More than this is not required and less will not avail.
Christian Science Discovered
The term Christian Science was used by Mary Baker Eddy to designate the purely spiritual method of healing both sin and sickness which she discovered. Mrs. Eddy was a faithful student of therapeutics and theology. Previous to her discovery she was a believer, to a certain extent, in the then prevailing methods of healing, although for many years she had endeavored to trace physical effects to mental causes. When but a child she became a member of an orthodox church and faithfully adhered to its teachings so far as she was able to accept them. There were some things, as for example the doctrine of predestination, which was so generally taught in those days, which she could not accept because they were not in accord with her thought of God as Love.
It was Mrs. Eddy's great need of physical healing which led to the discovery of Christian Science. The remedies known to medical science had failed and her physician said there was no hope, but her faith in God did not waver. She turned to the one infinite good for help and her prayer was answered. She did not regard her restoration to health as a special dispensation of Providence. She believed and afterwards proved that it was the divinely natural result of the operation of law which could be understood and demonstrated.
There was no person to whom she could appeal for an explanation of this wonderful healing. There was no book save the Bible which could throw any light upon her experience. She tells us that this book answered her questions as to how she was healed. As she read the inspired word in the light of her marvelous experience, it spake to her in a new tongue. In the spiritual understanding of the Scriptures, she discovered the Science of Christianity and learned how its sacred truths can be humanly applied to the healing of sickness and sin.
This new found faith was a living faith and thru her loving ministrations scores were healed of diseases pronounced incurable. Being convinced by many infallible proofs that she had discovered the Principle and rule of scientific Mind healing, she then demonstrated that it was possible to impart to students an understanding of this Science which would enable them to heal the sick. Thus was begun the greatest religious movement and the most effectual reform in the healing of sickness known to recent centuries.
Christian Healing Scientific
While this system of healing is not in accord with the various material methods known as medical practise, and while it does not harmonize with some of the present day theology, nevertheless it is Christian in spirit and practise, and it is scientific. It is based on divine Principle and can be demonstrated only as this Principle is understood and obeyed.
The teachings of Christian Science and the method of application in the healing of sickness and sin are today exactly what they have been from the beginning. What other method of healing administers the same remedies and proceeds along the same lines as it did 40 years ago? The rapidly changing theories as to the cause and cure of disease would seem to justify the assertion, there is not one.
We hear it asked, Is there no progress in Christian Science? Indeed there is, but progress in Christian Science means a better understanding of God as divine Principle. This understanding is expressed in a more spiritual consciousness and more faithful obedience to divine law.
There can be no contradiction in Truth. Every idea of Truth must of necessity be in perfect accord with every other idea. What one learns of reality is for eternity. It matters not how much he may learn; if he has really gained even one idea of Truth, he will never find another idea to contradict it.
Mrs. Eddy is the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the first and only text-book on Christian Science. This book is in no sense a substitute for the Bible, and has never been so regarded. Bible students have derived great benefit from commentaries and various other helps, but they have never considered any of these things a substitute for the Scriptures. Neither has the student of Christian Science considered Science and Health a substitute for the Bible. This book helps him to gain the spiritual sense of the Scriptures and to make a more practical application of the inspired teachings in the problems of daily life.
The various other writings of Mrs. Eddy, the unique public service which she instituted, the truly effectual church organization and government which she established, the provision for supplying the world with an abundance of pure Christian Science literature, all go to show how clearly she realized humanity's great need.
A Wise Leader
Mrs. Eddy was one of the most capable and successful religious leaders of this or any age. As students of Christian Science we realize that if we would gain the greatest possible good from her teachings we must have the right concept of her life and her works. In the true sense of the word a leader is one who goes before, and the most capable leader is the one who is the most successful doer.
When Mrs. Eddy gave to the world the fundamental teachings of Christian Science she was not promulgating a theory. She had long since passed the theoretical stage in her work. It was the demonstrable idea of Truth which heals morally and physically that she set forth in her writings. During the more than 40 years she labored to establish Christianity on a scientific basis she always went before, and when she lifted her voice it was to speak of the things she had found true in her own experience.
It is often the case that a leader seeks to impress his followers with a sense of the greatness of his personality, but Mrs. Eddy was never influenced by such a motive. She never lost sight of the Master's wise counsel in the Sermon on the Mount, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." From first to last it was her earnest endeavor to turn the thought of the people away from her personality to God. To those faithful students who so lovingly accepted her as their God-appointed Leader, she said many years ago, "Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" (Message to The Mother Church, June, 1901.)
We sometimes hear it said that the physical healing accomplished in Christian Science is merely the result of faith. Let it be admitted that faith is desirable, yes, even necessary; this in no way detracts from the practical value of Christian healing, rather does it show that this method of healing, even from a human point of view, is established upon a foundation more enduring than that which supports the gigantic financial enterprises of a commercial age.
Take away faith in men, in business methods, in the value of securities, and especially faith in the certainty of success — what would you have to build upon? Very little, if anything. It must be admitted that the value of material things is largely mental. When faith in values is destroyed there is a period of depression which continues until faith is restored. The so-called hard-headed business man is as much dependent upon faith as on anything else.
Human faith in good is not a thing to be esteemed lightly. It needs to be encouraged and strengthened, for without faith the attainment of good is impossible. Faith is by no means a weakness; on the contrary it is an indication of strength and power. In the Scriptures we read that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith in the possibility of an achievement is necessary to success in any undertaking. In all ages those who have contributed most largely to the world's good have been men and women of great faith.
In his truly wonderful dissertation on faith, contained in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, Paul writes, "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarded of them that diligently seek him.'' The opening sentence of the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," is as follows: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, — a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love."
On one occasion a father came to Jesus bringing his lunatic child whom the disciples had failed to heal. In the anguish of his heart he exclaimed, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." The Master replied, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." It is recorded that the child was cured from that very hour.
When the disciples asked why they had failed to cast out the evil spirit he told them it was because of their unbelief. He did not say the case was incurable, neither did he say it was God's will for the child to be afflicted in that manner, but he did say that failure was due to their lack of faith, or spiritual understanding.
Fitness to Receive
Good is infinite but it comes into human experience only as men are prepared to receive it. Belief in good and the possibility of its attainment is a step in the right direction; faith is a more spiritual quality of thought wherein one begins to rely upon the Infinite and to expect the desired result, but spiritual understanding. which is faith in the true and broad sense of the word, demonstrates God's presence and power.
It is a fundamental teaching of Christian Science that God, divine Love, has bestowed countless blessings upon all mankind. No good thing is withheld; but there must be an ability to perceive and a fitness to partake of that which has been bestowed. On several occasions the Master said to those who appealed to him for help, "According to your faith be it unto you," and to certain of those who were the recipients of God's goodness he said, "thy faith saved thee." By this he meant that they were prepared to receive the blessing of Truth. It is recorded that on one occasion he did not perform many mighty works because of the people's unbelief. They were not prepared to receive what it was in his power to give.
In his parable of the sower the Master taught that results are satisfactory only when conditions are favorable. The soil must be good, and it must be prepared for the seed. If the soil is of inferior quality or is not properly prepared it is unreasonable to expect a bountiful harvest. If one would receive the blessing of Truth he must make fit preparation. If he is unwilling to do this he should not complain when he fails to experience the good he desires.
Obedience to Law
At the very beginning of his public ministry Jesus declared that he was not come to destroy the law but to fulfill the law. By example as well as precept he taught obedience to divine Principle. Neither in word or in deed did he transgress the immutable law of God.
When one learns that eternal good can be gained in no way except through obedience to divine law he has begun to build on a sure foundation. The thought of God as person has encouraged the belief that one can gain good merely by asking for it, but the understanding that God is divine Principle operating through spiritual law shows what is required on man's part and why it is required.
All sin, sickness, discord and suffering is the result of a false sense of God and man. That which produces discord is not the remedy for discord, and can never succeed in removing it. When this self-evident fact is recognized it will be understood that the only remedy for evil is that which cannot produce or contribute to evil.
Paul had a clear sense of truth and error, good and evil, and throughout his writings he is very careful to separate one from another. What could be more to the point than his positive declaration that "to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace?"
The carnal mind includes all evil, but spiritual consciousness has no sense of evil and is life eternal. To human belief the tares and wheat, good and evil, truth and error, grow side by side. Spiritual understanding separates the chaff from the wheat. All that emanates from divine Mind is good, while that which originates in mortal mind has no legitimate place in consciousness.
It is apparent to all that sin is a quality of the carnal or mortal mind, and that it can be overcome by gaining the true sense of good. It is not, however, so generally understood that sickness is from the same source as sin and that it can be effectually healed in the same manner. The influence of thought upon the body is being recognized more and more, and mental conditions are being taken into consideration even in the physical diagnosis of disease. It is admitted that many times what are regarded as purely physical conditions could not result from the same natural causes if mental conditions were different. Even from a material point of view, a harmonious mental condition is most desirable.
In all the affairs of human experience it is believed that to understand the nature of a trouble and what has caused it, is a great help in overcoming the difficulty. This is believed to be especially true of disease, and many persons argue that before one can heal a disease he must know its name and nature and what has caused it. A correct physical diagnosis of disease is well-nigh an impossibility, as is shown by the great diversity of opinions among those learned persons who have spent years of study along material lines. Many times what is considered a cause is merely an effect, and the first or primitive cause is unknown. It must be admitted that many sick persons have recovered, or at least appeared to do so, when the physician was unable to determine the nature of the trouble or what had produced it.
One celebrated physician and surgeon declared it to be his honest conviction that nine persons out of ten would recover without the aid of material remedies if they would simply let nature takes its course. It is admitted, even by the advocates of material methods of healing, that all that drugs can do is to help nature heal the sick, and to this end and for this purpose only are they administered by those who employ them.
Laws of Nature
Let it be granted that sickness is the penalty paid for breaking nature's laws either knowingly or unwittingly. Then the question arises, How can the sufferer best atone for the wrong that is done and regain his health? If it be true that nature is asserting itself in behalf of the sick man, how can the unfortunate one place himself in the position to experience the greatest possible good? There are various forms of medical practise, all claiming to work in harmony with nature's laws, and those in need of healing must decide between them.
Christian Science teaches it is divinely natural to be healthy and unnatural to be sick. The discords termed sickness and sin, and all other inharmonious conditions and experiences, can be dealt with as intelligently as can the discords of music or mathematics, and they will be overcome as readily when the divine Principle of harmonious being is understood and the laws thereof intelligently obeyed.
According to Christian Science, laws of nature are not laws of matter but laws of divine Mind, and the world's most successful healer declared that his followers in all ages would be able to heal the sick in accordance with these unchanging laws.
When the sick are brought into harmony with God's law, they are restored to health. How is this accomplished? The prayer of faith is the unfailing remedy. When it is understood that the sick are healed by reason of the activity of divine Mind operating through spiritual law, who will say that the prayer of spiritual understanding is less scientific than the mental operation which diagnoses disease according to material theories; or that it is less effectual in healing the sick than is the drug or application administered in accordance with the material diagnosis? It can be no longer be denied that the sick are healed in Christian Science even though the majority are not prepared to admit that the method is scientific. One may question the method but he cannot deny the result.
Conservation of Health
We hear a great deal these days about the conservation of health and the means by which this most desirable end can be attained. Few persons realize how much Christian Science is doing in this direction. Christian Science is a preventive as well as a curative. Thousands have been restored to perfect health after they had been pronounced incurable, and there is no means of estimating how many have been healed before they reached the so-called incurable stage.
If obedience to divine law heals the sick, then the best way to preserve health and prevent the development of disease is to know and obey the law of God. According to Christian Science, laws of matter, and what are termed laws of health, are simply man made beliefs and not laws of God. Health and freedom are gained through obedience to God's law, and not as the result of being in bondage to the so-called laws of mortal mind.
The most effectual means of conserving that which is good and at the same time delivering humanity from discordant conditions, is to impart the understanding of divine law which always works out good and is never the source or cause of evil. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit," declared the great exponent of divine law. If one desires good he must look to the source whence good can come. He must do this understandingly. According to his enlightened faith he will receive the blessing he desires.
Physical and Moral Healing
It is believed by many that disease and suffering are to a certain extent in accordance with the divine plan. Jesus regarded human experience from an entirely different point of view and his success in overcoming discordant conditions proved that his faith was right.
Mortals have made a fatal mistake in concluding that there is one remedy for sin and another remedy for sickness. Jesus was as successful in healing sickness as he was in destroying sin. Why then should he not be considered an authority in the one case as well as the other? In his teaching and practise, physical and moral healing were one. Nowhere did he intimate by word or deed that different remedies were required. When the people murmured because he said unto a sick man, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," he asked "Whether it is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?" To the impotent man whom he healed he said, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."
Jesus declared that he could do nothing of himself. Whatever was accomplished was the work of God. Is it not evident that he considered the healing of sickness as divinely natural as the healing of sin? He did not teach that there are two laws, one to be obeyed by the sick man and another by the sinner. There is but one law, the law of divine Mind, and obedience to this law is required of both the sick and the sinful. Whatever the human need, obedience to the law of God will supply that need, for God is infinite good and ''no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly," — are obedient to divine law.
Jesus commanded his students to heal the sick and cast out devils as well as preach the gospel, and this command was faithfully adhered to until mortal belief substituted material methods for God's power in the healing of sickness.
Christianity is Practical
Christianity as Jesus taught it is effectual; being effectual, it is practical, and because it is practical it is the privilege of every man to find in his own experience the proof of its truth and power. Christianity is not rightly apprehended until it becomes practical, for it is not a matter of faith merely. The Scriptures declare that "faith without works is dead."
There is great need of a religion which heals, and a healing system which is thoroughly Christian in theory and practice. Christian Science meets these requirements. It heals both sickness and sin. It relies upon and recognizes no power apart from God. Its teachings are found available in all the activities of human endeavor. It renders effectual aid in every time of need, and is proving itself to be the one universal remedy for human ills.
After the resurrection the Master appeared to his disciples and commanded them to make disciples of all nations, "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." He gave them this assurance of divine guidance and protection: "Lo, I am with, you alway, even unto the end of the world." This sweet promise is being fulfilled. Men are learning from experience that spiritual understanding never faileth. It is the one thing needful, and there is no limit to what it can do for men. It is sent to "heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised."
When Paul gained the understanding of God's law as supreme he boldly declared, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." The apostle did not fear to claim his God-given rights. The law of God had rendered null and void the so-called law of sin and death and he rejoiced in the liberty wherewith Christ, Truth, had made him free.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 231) "To hold yourself superior to sin, because God made you superior to it and governs man, is true wisdom. To fear sin is to misunderstand the power of Love and the divine Science of being in man's relation to God, — to doubt His government and distrust His omnipotent care. To hold yourself superior to sickness and death is equally wise, and is in accordance with divine Science. To fear them is impossible, when you fully apprehend God and know that they are no part of His creation.
"Man, governed by his Maker, having no other Mind, — planted on the Evangelist's statement that 'all things were made by Him [the Word of God]; and without Him was not anything made that was made,' — can triumph over sin, sickness, and death."
[Delivered Nov. 28, 1915, at the Town Hall in Ayer, Massachusetts, and published in Turner's Public Spirit of Ayer, Dec. 4, 1915. In two places in this account of the lecture missing lines of text have been supplied through recourse to other copies of the lecture; these additions were set off by brackets.
[Mr. Parker, who introduced the lecturer, was General Counsel of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, for 13 and one half years, ending in June 1944. Mr. Parker was also President of The Mother Church from 1924-1925. He was a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Early in his Christian Science experience, in a testimony which appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel, he gave further details about his healing of the desire for tobacco:
["On Aug, 1, 1906, I was cured in one treatment of all desire for smoking. At that time I had been a confirmed smoker for about fifteen years, the amount of tobacco used being limited only by the opportunities I could make. It had been my custom every fall to 'swear off' for a month: I had stubbornly kept each attempt by sheer will-power, and at the expense of much nervous energy and amiability. During each of these struggles the desire would be with me constantly, and at the end would be stronger than ever. Christian Science operated in an entirely different way. There was no nervous upset, no conscious effort of the will on my part; I simply discovered that I no longer cared for tobacco, and from that day to this I have not once had the slightest desire to smoke. If occasion requires, I can ride in a smoking-car or sit with men who are smoking, without having any desire aroused or without being unduly annoyed thereby.
["I am not a Christian Scientist in the active sense of the word, indeed I realize that I know very little about it; but I am glad to state these facts in justice and gratitude, and in the hope that they may furnish encouragement to others.
["Torrance Parker, Belmont, Mass."]